Elizabeth Farebrother University of Nottingham
Chickens of Death and Chickens in Life. Reconstructing human-fowl relationships through isotope analysis of the Avar cemetery of Vienna Csokorgasse
Chickens are the one of the most common grave goods at the Avar period cemetery of Vienna Csokrgasse, which contains a variety of burials belonging to humans of different sex and status. Ongoing research on the animal remains from this site by Henriette Kroll has highlighted that the deposition of the chickens is not random but highly structured. Women are generally interred with hens, men with cockerels and, interestingly, the higher status the male, the longer the cock-spur of the cockerel.
Work by Doherty (in press) has demonstrated that cockerels with well-developed spurs are likely to be of considerable age, certainly in excess of two years. It is, therefore, probable that these animals were well known, and possibly well-treated, amongst the human community. My study will analyse the bone chemistry of the chickens from this site to see if their Carbon and Nitrogen isotope ratios reflect intra-population variations in diet. The results will be examined to see if they correlate with the status of the people with whom they were buried.